Before doing any maintenance, turn off the power to your air conditioner. Then remove the cover and gently brush away debris from the fins. If the fins are severely bent, use a butter knife to twist them back into place.
Consider installing a programmable thermostat to lower your energy costs by creating cooling schedules that correspond with your routine. Seal leaky ducts with foil tape or duct mastic.
Change the Air Filter
The air filter is a vital piece of equipment that ensures the proper operation of your HVAC system. Without it, the system would be forced to work much harder to warm or cool your space, which is costly. At the same time, a dirty filter can restrict air flow and cause the system to work inefficiently, eventually leading to premature equipment failure.
Changing or cleaning your filter is an easy and inexpensive maintenance task that’s one of the most important to perform regularly to extend the life of your air conditioning system. It’s also important to check your filter at least once a month to determine whether or not it needs to be cleaned or replaced.
Before you do anything else, turn off the power to your air conditioning unit by switching off its thermostat or flipping the breaker switch. This is important for safety and to prevent dust or debris from being sucked into the unit during the filter change.
Once the power is off, locate the air filter in your system and open its compartment. You may find it housed in a separate chamber within your home’s return air duct, or it may be part of the cabinet or panel that houses the blower chamber. Either way, you should be able to easily see the slot in which the filter slides into place. If you can’t see the air filter, look for the dimensions printed on the frame or edge of the old filter and use these measurements to buy a replacement online or at a local hardware store.
Once you have the new or clean filter in hand, carefully slide it into the empty slot and make sure it’s an exact fit. Then, close the filter compartment and restore power to the unit, if necessary. If you’re worried about forgetting to change the filter or aren’t sure how often you should replace it, consider signing up for a service that will ship you filters at one, two or three-month intervals. If you do this, just remember to check your filter at the end of each month and make adjustments as needed.
Clean the Vents and Registers
As air circulates through your vents and floor registers, it picks up dirt, dust, and other allergens. When you don’t clean these, they get recirculated throughout your home, which can make you sick and can contribute to breathing problems like asthma. Dirty vents also cause stress on your system, which can lead to higher energy bills and faster wear and tear on your air conditioner.
To clean your vents, start by vacuuming and wiping loose dust from them. This should be enough for most of your vents, but if you notice dark rings around the edges of your ceiling vents or a bad odor coming from them, it’s time to do a deeper cleaning. Use a vacuum with a crevice tool to remove dust from the nooks and crannies. You can also wipe down the covers with a wet rag to get rid of any buildup of dust or dirt.
Before you begin cleaning your vents, turn off power to the air conditioner at the breaker box or inside the unit. Next, carefully unscrew the vent covers and wash them in soapy water. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly, including the gaskets on the back, and dry them before reinstalling them. If you’re uncomfortable working with electricity or don’t have the tools necessary to do this yourself, consider hiring a professional.
Don’t forget to clean your floor and wall registers, as well. These can collect dust and dirt, as well as pet hair and dander. Be sure to vacuum and wipe them regularly as part of your overall house cleaning routine.
Finally, don’t block your vents with furniture, blankets, or anything else. Closing vents restricts air flow and forces your system to work harder to keep you cool, which could result in higher energy bills. This can also lead to premature wear and tear on the air conditioning unit, which will ultimately cost you more money in repairs and maintenance costs. Aim to clean your vents and registers at least once every six months.
Adjust the Thermostat
The thermostat in your home air conditioning system controls how often the cooling system runs, and adjusting the temperature is the key to saving energy. The lower you set the temperature, the less cooling your system needs to do its job. Conversely, the higher you set the temperature, the more your system will run. It can be tricky to find a setting that balances your comfort preferences and financial bottom line, but making small adjustments in the summer and winter can help you reduce your electric bill and maintain an ideal indoor climate all year round.
The best way to manage your heating and cooling costs is by using a programmable thermostat. These devices make temperature changes based on your family’s routine, and can reduce the time your system runs by several hours each day. For example, it’s smart to change the thermostat setting to a cooler temperature when everyone is out of the house during the day and then raise it before you go to bed at night.
However, it’s also important to note that changing the thermostat’s settings on a regular basis wastes energy and money. A study found that constantly adjusting the thermostat results in a loss of approximately 10% of your energy bill. This is because your system needs to start up and shut down frequently, which uses more electricity than it would if it were running continuously at a stable temperature.
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider getting one or installing an app on your smartphone. It will allow you to monitor your energy usage and see how much you’re spending on heating and cooling each month.
Another way to save money with your thermostat is to install ceiling fans. Putting a fan in each room will keep the air in your home cooler and help your air conditioner stay in working order. Finally, sealing and caulking around windows, doors and vents is an excellent way to avoid heat loss and prevent hot or cold spots in your home. Check for leaks periodically.
Have Your System Inspected
Getting your system professionally inspected on a regular basis is the best way to ensure that it will be operating as well as possible. This will include checking for wear and tear, compliance with safety regulations, and that ductwork is properly insulated and sized. This will help to keep energy costs down while ensuring that the system is running as efficiently as possible.
Another benefit of having a professional conduct the inspection is that if you are under warranty, they will often cover the cost of repairs if something does go wrong with your system. Attempting to repair your system on your own can lead to additional damage that could result in higher repair costs in the long run.
In addition, having your system inspected by a professional can help to improve indoor air quality. A dirty HVAC system can become a breeding ground for microbial allergens that can trigger allergies and other health issues. To reduce the risk of these problems, make sure that all moisture-producing activities such as cooking, bathing, and washing are done outdoors or with a fan that exhausts the moisture directly into the outdoor atmosphere.
Incorporating these ten tips into your regular routine can help to improve your comfort while reducing your energy costs. However, if you’re still having problems with your air conditioning, always call a technician before trying to fix it yourself. This will ensure that the problem is diagnosed correctly and repaired as quickly as possible to avoid expensive repair bills. A good HVAC contractor can also help you to figure out if your system is outdated or worn out and can recommend the best replacement unit for your needs.